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neilcvx

Bretagne out and back .

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I had been looking forward to a trip on Bretagne for a long time cost and holiday destination had hindered my choices but on the 31st of August 2018 the day finally arrived luckily as well through coincidence some 30 ish years after we’d sailed the route my Dad was going to be on the sailing to luckily he was sharing a cabin with my mother and not me and the wife this time.

Boarding seemed to be a slow process compared to the Pont or MSM but eventually we were on parked up and headed for the self service after the long drive there were plenty helpful friendly staff to guide us in the right direction,we didn’t fancy a big meal so just had some cheese and biscuits, compared to the Pont and Armorique the self service seemed to be smaller and a bit cramped the seating area has a similar issue imo no big deal still a decent place to sit and relax,  after the snack our club cabin was ready the wife got a big shock when she went in and said “I thought we got a club cabin?” I think the main issue for her was there’s no where comfy to sit as the reading light stops you sitting that way and the design of the upper bunks stops you sitting the other way and you can only really see the tv from one of the lower beds and the air con didn’t seem to cool the room decently anyway no big deal we had a good sleep, after a decent shower we went up to Les Abers for breakfast which was excellent it’s a nice place to sit and enjoy a leisurely breakfast and we even managed to get a seat next to my parents they were heading for Lesconil whilst we were heading to Saint Emilion, after breakfast we headed to deck 5 !!!! and we had the privilege of being the very last vehicle to leave the Bretagne on that sailing unlike my parents who were on deck 2 and were off a good half hour before us all in all a decent sailing despite the shortcomings.

After 12 glorious days  in Saint Emilion we headed back up to Saint Malo and stayed there for a couple of days catching the Saturday morning sailing boarding seemed to be a lot better and quicker maybe less vehicles, as we drove on I sighed as everyone in front was heading up to deck 5 but luckily we got waved straight on not having to go up any ramps , we heade up to the self service for a quick bit to eat then to our outside 4 berth same as the club without the tv, coffee etc, I spent a good time mooching around as I hadn’t had much of a chance on the last sailing and to be honest I can see why they want to replace her she just seems a bit dated to be honest for example I went for coffee in the piano bar and despite the barman being more interested in doing his stock take than serving customers I got a nespresso 🙁 went to sit down and drink it with a sea view and nearly slid off the cushion the seat seemed to resemble a caravan seat made of plywood! I noticed some of the seats opposite were in need of a good bit tlc as well, we had some lunch later in the self service the Mrs didn’t fancy eating to much (all though she recommends the ginger seasickness biscuits in the shop) but what we had was good quality and decently priced afterwards we wandered and watched the tribute act in the bar it’s a nice place to sit and relax especially when it’s not too busy as it was that day, then we went shopping! There’s certainly no shortage of shops on Bretagne although I prefer the Ponts shops layout Bretagnes seem a bit of a mix up with staff in some happily reading a book whilst the busier ones had long lines of customers , after watching her dock we were off and on the motorway by 1810 I won’t complain about that.

In summary Bretagne is a nice ship to sail on but in my opinion is badly showing her age in a lot of ways I can see why BF want to replace her.C95A6394-4746-4F24-84A5-B742D7BC0900.thumb.jpeg.6cf5456d266616334acb9ed70070234e.jpeg5223AEAC-9A89-43EE-820F-628F5A4612D4.thumb.jpeg.3bdc0ef551f7cc9b2f32cfad9a837ed6.jpeg

Edited by neilcvx
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Those must be the longest two sentences I’ve ever read! 😁 🤯

Glad you had a good time Neil.  She’s certainly from a different era than PA, Armorique and MSM, and you can tell when on board.  I don’t think she feels nearly as dated as Normandie though.  Pity you didn’t get to have lunch in Les Abers on the way back.  Passing between Alderney and Cap de la Hague whilst enjoying the buffet offerings must be one of those quintessential BF experiences!

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The joys of writing a report on an iPhone.

To be honest if the wife had better sea legs then a leisurely lunch in Les Abers would be an option but sitting like a Jimmy no pals for a couple of hours isn’t much fun.

You can tell from the moment you drive on board you’re on an older ferry and how a newer vessel would benefit BF financially and the customers experience, and if they sell of some of Goudies work when she eventually leaves I will be first in line.

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Thanks for an honest and interesting report Neil..Yes she is showing her age, and looks rather old fashioned in places. Crew accomodation for one must be a restricting place to have to live. It is a huge testimony that she ploughs on, day and night, being looked after so well and an even greater  testimony to how well she was designed and built. To many of us, Bretagne was a happy holiday memory maker when we had young families and we greeted her every year in Portsmouth like an old friend. She is therefore looked upon, through rose tinted spectacles, by many, especially on here. 

   She has done well and sadly she is  past her sell by date but we forgive her shortcomings and still enjoy breakfast and lunches in the Les Aber. She is still the most leisurely route to France with a wonderful atmosphere and even better memories..

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The outward crossing certainly is certainly the best timed crossing that BF offer apart from the Thursday sailing from Roscoff , it would be interesting to see how it would fair as a 2 ship service with a return journey with the same timing, has to be said though it’s also BFs most expensive UK - France crossing too.

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It's also the only crossing which both leaves and arrives at civilised times of the day or night (in both directions), allows a full night's sleep/decent rest and two reasonably spaced meals, while at the same time never feeing overcrowded. But neither do you get the impression of being in a floating Travel Lodge like you do on PA. Ed. 

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I’ve never had that feeling on the Pont Aven and at least you can relax on a nice sofa and look out your cabin window on the Pont, personally speaking I would be so hangry by 2030 at night having a 3 course meal would be a chore not a pleasure it’s just that wee bit too late in my opinion.

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I was on the Bretagne recently looking at some of the voids where the gaming machines used to be.

Does anyone know if there are plans afoot to ever bring these back on all the ships? I understand "games" are allowed still, but nothing where you can win money on any of the ships now. Is that correct?

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1 minute ago, hf_uk said:

I was on the Bretagne recently looking at some of the voids where the gaming machines used to be.

Does anyone know if there are plans afoot to ever bring these back on all the ships? I understand "games" are allowed still, but nothing where you can win money on any of the ships now. Is that correct?

I would suspect BF will find a use for the ship unless French law changes you won’t see gambling machines again.

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6 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

I would suspect BF will find a use for the ship unless French law changes you won’t see gambling machines again.

Seems rather archaic!

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1 hour ago, neilcvx said:

I meant that area of the ship.

Yes I gathered they wouldn't find a use for the whole ship.

Having said that - what a fab idea. Turn her into a floating hotel (QE2) style in St Malo harbour when she's retired 😉

....Primarily sell the Commodore and Club cabins.... rip out a lot of the 2 and 4 berth inside cabins and add some extra facilities:)

Edited by hf_uk

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Not sure whether Bretagne would fit in the lock.  Certainly wouldn’t be space for her in the outer harbour.  (And why am I humouring the idea?!)

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The hotel we stayed at in St Malos garage was very similar to deck 5 on Bretagne it took a 20 point turn to get it parked , the room was a lot bigger than a cabin on Bretagne though.

On a side note I did notice the free onboard WiFi worked a lot better than on any other sailing I had been on.

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Its's not an entirely ridiculous idea. They could decommission the engines. Only sell/service a small number of cabins / rooms to start (commodore), and over time convert other areas. They could keep the a la carte open as a normal restaurant for a full lunchtime/dinnertime service each day for walk on passengers. Keep the boutiques open more or less as they are!

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No it wouldn't work economically. As said earlier, where would you park the ship? She wouldn't fit in the lock to the inner harbour at St St Malo. If you decommission the engines then you need an alternative means of supplying power. You can't just plug a ship into the local mains.

Ships taken out of commission deteriorate at an alarming rate as has been demonstrated time and again. They are huge money pits. Prospective visitors would find far more choice and better value ashore.

A total non starter I'm afraid.

Bretagne's future will either be further service elsewhere, possibly in the Med or the breaker's yard.

Edited by cvabishop

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19 hours ago, neilcvx said:

You can tell from the moment you drive on board you’re on an older ferry and how a newer vessel would benefit BF financially and the customers experience, and if they sell of some of Goudies work when she eventually leaves I will be first in line.

Thanks Neil, good piece.

Her vehicle lanes are particularly narrow compared to others in the fleet, even those of the same vintage, Normandie and Barfy have car decks which feel more spacious. RoPax v cruise ferry I suppose. You're right, over the past 3 to 4 years she's began to look her age, the devil's in the detail. Aesthetically, once Honfleur arrives many travellers will realise how dated the other ships are too, there's been huge changes in the ten years since Armorique set sail which will just compound the feelings toward the vessels built a quarter of a century ago or before.

Newer ferries are built longer and wider not to increase capacity as such but to offer the passenger more space which is clearly a premium on Bretagne.

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